Archive for April, 2011

Wanted: a proper PAYG data plan

April 23rd, 2011 No comments

When I bought my iPad I almost chose a WiFi only version, but decided on a WiFi/3G version for the odd occasions when it would be used away from a WiFi connection. I had no real idea how much data I would be using. My average monthly data usage on the iPhone rarely exceeded 200MB. I did consider getting a GiffGaff SIM but they consider usage in an iPad to be ‘tethering’ (a strange interpretation of the word) and anyone mentioning tethering and iPad in a tweet leaves themselves open to GiffGaff’s Gestapo-like followers. GiffGaff seem to be scared of massive data usage on the iPad, something you’ll shortly see is far from the truth.

Unfortunately, none of the UK mobile telcos offers a proper PAYG data plan that works in the same way as a phone plan; on a PAYG phone plan your credit never expires (as long as you make a call once in a while, usually a month), not so with data plans.

I plumped instead for the best plan on offer at the time which was Three’s 3GB for £20. Unfortunately this data allowance expires after 3 months, but at under £7/month for a connection it was a start. Once I did start using my iPad, i found that my average monthly cellular data usage on iPad turns out to be around 40-50MB, a fraction of my iPhone usage, making a mockery of GiffGaff’s argument for allowing data usage on an iPhone but not the iPad.

I then came to renew the Three data plan but found that you cannot add another three months, but have to pay £10 for 1GB that lasts a month. At my usage rate this is a complete waste. It would be cheaper to go and buy another SIM for three months! It also means that these plans are not ‘pay as you go’ at all; since the data allowance only lasts a month they are effectively 30-day monthly contracts.

Monthly contracts are not suitable, paying for a plan that would largely go unused and also run the risk of some rogue app taking me over my monthly allowance and into more expensive data costs. A PAYG allowance is self limiting as it would simply run out.

So come on, Vodafone, O2, Three, T-Mobile, Orange, GiffGaff. Let’s have a real PAYG data plan where I can buy say 1GB of data top-up that never expires, just like my PAYG phone credit. I know I am not alone in wanting such a plan.

UPDATE: January 2012

GiffGaff are now allowing use of their SIMS in iPads. Data Costs 20p/day (for first 20MB) then 20p/MB for data used on top during that day – Perfect for the amount of data I use on the iPad. Credit does not expire. If I know I’m going to be using a lot more data, I can buy a data goody bag with my credit.

You can get a free GiffGaff SIM here.

Following in the tracks of the Victorians

April 9th, 2011 No comments

Today, with the beautiful weather, we took a trip to Hollingworth Lake near Littleborough and Smithy Bridge, somewhere I had never been before.

Hollingworth Lake

158755 at Smithy BridgeRather than jumping in the car, however, we decided to take the train. At £5.80 return for two adults and one child with a family railcard (under fives still free) that wouldn’t even cover the current extortionate cost of the diesel, let alone wear and tear and the pay and display parking at the lake. It is of course a little slower but that was not an issue today.

Hollingworth Lake is actually a reservoir built in 1804 to feed the Rochdale Canal but later became a tourist attraction for the Victorians and I realised that today, by choosing rail, we were following in the tracks of the same Victorians who would have visited by rail in the latter half of the 19th century. After closure in 1960, Smithy Bridge was reopened in 1985 and is fairly well served with a half-hourly service between Manchester Victoria and Leeds; a pity the same cannot be said for our local station, Blackrod.